03 November 2016, 10:30 EST
New York, NY, USALive Auction
Lot 302: CAMILLE PISSARRO Les Baigneuses gardeuses d'oies.(18 views)
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Estimate: $15,000 - $20,000
Les Baigneuses gardeuses d'oies.
Color drypoint printed from four plates (blue, red, yellow and black) on antique, cream laid paper, circa 1895. 90x150 mm; 3 3/4x6 inches, full margins. Ninth state (of 9). One of approximately only 20 lifetime impressions printed in colors in all nine states combined, several printed in only three colors (there were also 11 posthumous impressions printed in colors, see lot 315). Signed, titled and inscribed "Ep. d'art no. 2" in pencil, lower margin. With the regaistration marks at the left and right plate edges and the color remarques at the lower left plate edge. A very good impression of this extremely scarce color print.
We have found only 4 other lifetime impressions printed in colors at auction in the past 30 years.
This is one of only five different etched or drypointed subjects executed by Pissarro in colors; he also prodcued one color lithograph (see lots 311-3147). Despite being a master colorist through oil paintings, watercolors and pastels, Pissarro found color printmaking to be mostly disappointing. Part of the limitation he experienced doubtlessly came from his relutance to work with other master printers to achieve more technically complex color prints, whether in intaglio or lithography.
According to the artist's son Ludovic, "Pissarro frankly hated the aquatint in color printed à la poupée, that is, a colored aquatint in which a number of colors are printed on the same plate at the same time, a fashion which was becoming popular [Degas had likely printed some impressions in this manner for Pissarro in the late 1870s]. He then took to making experiments in color printing but in a different way. He used for this four plates, one for each color, blue yellow and red, and a key plate, black, for the outline. These plates were passed under the press in succession, as in the typographic process, the great difficulty in this attempt was to secure perfect register with the needle on damped paper, a matter calculated to drive a person mad with impatience! He therefore gave up the idea. But these experiments are very interesting, although he was not himself quite satisfied."
One of the outcomes of this technique, as Ludovic notes, and a beneficial accident, was Pissarro's inability to achieve perfect registration in the successive printing of each of the plates, therefore imparting a "soft and vague" appearance to the scenes, resembling the shimmering light and colors in his paintings and pastels. Delteil 119.